Sustainable project takes root with students in Old Bawn CS
Ms Emma Black with Sarah Whelan, Ryan Brothwood and Alexandr Mysak in the polytunnel

Sustainable project takes root with students in Old Bawn CS

In a series of weekly articles, we get the full story on the 13 projects awarded funding through the €100k Tallaght Fund, and how each project aims to positively impact the community.

A SUSTAINABLE project has this month taken root at Old Bawn Community School, with students and teachers digging in to develop and grow a new way of learning.

Old Bawn CS was one of 13 successful applicants to the 2021 Tallaght Fund, which granted the local school €1,800 to support the purchase of polytunnel and gardening equipment.

Established by the Síol Foundation, a social enterprise founded by Tallaght entrepreneur Ed Dunne, the Tallaght Fund is a €100k annual investment into the creation of innovative, sustainable and inclusive projects within the community.

The benefits of the fund were evident this week when The Echo visited Old Bawn CS, and its new outdoor learning hub, a 14ft polytunnel.

Speaking with The Echo, Principal Ursula McCabe said: “When I saw the Tallaght Fund, I had an idea about a polytunnel and applied for funding… it was worth a shot.

“[The polytunnel is] an outside classroom, it can take a whole class.

“It’s amazing… kids who had never lifted a shovel before are out there digging and planting.

“It’s fun for kids and they will learn skills they can transfer to their own lives.

“We’re very grateful to the Tallaght Fund for the start…”

As the outside learning begins this month, strawberries, peas and sunflowers are currently growing in the polytunnel.

Alongside a firm focus on sustainability and growing your own food, the polytunnel will also be used to support learning across other subjects such as science, art and home economics.

Emma Black is a home economics teacher in Old Bawn CS and is leading a multi-disciplinary, horticultural team of teachers that are working with students across all year groups.

Ms Emma Black with Sarah Whelan, Ryan Brothwood and Alexandr Mysak in Old Bawn Community School

“This polytunnel is supporting a new way of learning…and it will have a cross curriculum link,” Ms Black said.

“It’s helping to bring life skills into learning.”

Currently an irrigation system, with a timer, is being installed, with plans to introduce a rainwater harvester in the pipeline.

This simple, cost-effective yet innovative project hopes to have longterm benefits for students, teachers and the entire school community as it grows over the years.

According to Ms Black, this is truly a sustainable project in all ways.

“It’s all about learning to grow your own food and learning to be sustainable,” Ms Black said.

“Young people are seeing where food comes from and the effort put into growing food, which will help them to look at food waste differently.

“This is a longterm project and we’re just getting going.

“It’s really exciting and the students absolutely love it.”

While supporting all subjects in the school, the new outdoor classroom will also link in with a current junior cycle programme called Grow It, Eat It, Cook It – with plans in place to create a Transition Year horticultural module.

Principal Mc Cabe also noted how the woodwork department is looking at designing and building potting benches for students to work at in the polytunnel.

Old Bawn is also connecting with Holy Rosary in Rathcoole, which has a polytunnel, and other local and national organisations in the hope of building its sustainable and inclusive outdoor learning hub.

“This project can just grow and grow”, Ms McCabe said.

“Watch this space…”

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